|Darjeeling: Travelling in Darjeeling:
living at the Shamrock Lodge, and life with Amma Ongel
The following excerpt is from ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, by Jack Haas, "The Kerouac of the new millennium." (FW)
| "...upon arriving in Darjeeling I made my way to the small hotel which I had been directed to stay at...down one of the town's many dank and twisting, stone walkways, and after losing my way a number of times I finally ended up in the lap of one of India's most eccentric, incarnate expressions of the Mother- Amma Ongel, Mother Angel, owner of the Shamrock Hotel, a wayfarer's home away from home.
Amma was a rotund, fiery, loving and unbending matriarch. A woman who ruled her roost with care and an iron fist, making certain that each of her children- and anyone who arrived at her door was her child- were well-fed, well-bedded, and well-guarded from the insurrection of the night.
It was indeed a haven, a Shambhala for my soul, when I arrived into her bosom, and found myself eating home-cooked meals every night around a massive table, among other travelers, and being harbored from the neverending onslaught of invisible jackals at my heels. Amma received and released a multitude of souls like myself, all of whom came for corpulent sustenance acquired from the gravity of her soul's grounding. And when nourished they, like I, were sent off into the distance as if launched on the wings of her wisened dispassion. Roots and wings. Amma was the earth, but she did not withhold her children from the sky.
There were pictures in Amma's living room of her, this mother-to-all, standing with Nehru in the early 1950's, for her spirit had been a part of the birthing of Mother India, and she was resolute in her manner of approach, respect, and reproach, as necessary, to the entire populace of not only her country, but the entire world.
I was one of the many souls towards whom she had opened up her arms, had taken a liking to, and, after I had stayed with her for a while, she was even about to let me run the hotel for a few months while she was away overseas. That is, until she realized, in her own words, that I was “a drunkard and a womanizer”- facts which I could neither deny nor alter at the time. And who could blame me. I was alone, and so I chose to booze. I was alone, and so I chased women.
I do not regret any of my absurd and societally unacceptable life back then. I accept all of myself, no matter who chooses to deny me. After all, I was no murderer or thief. All I wanted was some liquor and love. And who could blame me. ..."
Jack Haas is a wilderness explorer, world traveler, and independent researcher and writer. He is the author of four highly acclaimed books: THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, THE DREAM OF BEING: aphorisms, ideograms, and aislings, and IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey.
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